Corner Store Secrets

There's a corner drug store near your house. There's another one near your destination. Walgreens and CVS alone have 15,000 corners covered, so there's probably one near to you now, wherever you are. Besides ice cream, Advil and aggressive fluorescent lighting, your corner drug store also holds bicycle secrets. Read on to see what's hidden in plain sight.

If you're riding and locking up daily, you're bound to get a few paint scratches. Not to worry, nail polish comes in every visible color and one little bottle holds more touch ups than you'll ever need. It's cheap, glossy, easy to use, and durable. You need less than you think, so wipe the brush clean except for the smallest dab. Pro Tip: bring your bicycle in so you can color match right there in the aisle. If you get grief from an employee, just smile and let them know you're a sure sale.

Fallen from former glory, you now have to bend down for Aqua Net. It's on the bottom shelf at the drug store, but it used to be on every bike shop shelf. Seriously. Aqua Net is very slippery when first sprayed, but dries tacky quickly. It's been a mechanics secret tool for installing grips for years. It's less toxic now, but no less effective. If you swap riser grips often, attend a lot of 1980's themed parties, or simply need "extra super hold" for your bangs, consider grabbing a bottle.

While the stylist in you (and us) cringes somewhat, cotton/latex gloves actually provide a comfortable ride. The woven top breathes to shield your hands while staying cool, and the tacky latex palm provides a confident grip. They work, they're less than $10, and you can grab a pair in nearly any corner drug store. If they were available in all black we might sell them ourselves. Maybe.

When in a pinch, you'd be surprised what other helpful tools are only a few blocks away. Need to transport a larger item you weren't expecting? Bungee cords are cheap and plentiful. Ever leave your lock at home for a quick trip, but run into an invite for drinks? Many corner stores even carry simple cable locks.* 

*This is not an endorsement to be lazy or risky. In San Francisco a cable lock won't suffice anytime, but it might be sufficient in your locale. Be merry, but be wise. An evening of great conversation is worth a $10 cable lock, but not worth sacrificing your bike.

Got a holiday, group ride, or general merriment gathering coming up? There's plenty of glittering accessories for you and your bike scattered around the store. Decorative tape and streamers for your frame, cheap glasses and bubbles for you, and tons more in between. Disposable and ridiculous yes, but often exactly what's desired.

Of course there's plenty of stuff you already know: like various blinky light batteries, granola bars for a boost, cheap rain ponchos for surprise showers, and more. Next time you stop in your local drug store, keep you bicycle eyes open and you'll see even more opportunities.

At many corner stores, you can even buy a bicycle.

 

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Kickstarter: How Are We Doing?

In about 36 hours our Lumen Kickstarter campaign will close. It's been a crazy few weeks and we've been continually humbled by the interest and enthusiasm.

We've given a LOT of interviews. The Lumen has received coverage in over 100 publications in a dozen different languages. Our video has over 25,000 views on YouTube.

We've explained how retro-reflection technology is different, and how together with our partners at Halo Coatings we're able to apply that technology to a 3D object.

We've shared many times that cyclists really love their bikes. Not a little bit, but a lot. It's a part of them and their city identity. That's one of the reasons we knew the Lumen would be a hit. It's an innovative opportunity for riders to add style and personality to a bike. Your bike.

To see how we're doing on Kickstarter, and to be among the first Lumen riders, click here. This is your last chance to be first in line.

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VIPark: Because Your Time Matters More

Are you tired of looking for parking? Bike racks always full?  Are you "just going to be a second"?

VIPark is a revolutionary bicycle parking system that allows a rider to stop, dismount the bike, and leave it anywhere. Parking is your right. That's your spot.

Simply activate the VIPark light system and be on your way.

VIPark is controlled via Bluetooth 2.0 from the included iOS app (Android coming soon) or the stem mounted On/Off button. Unlike traditional hazard light systems, VIPark allows you to customize the brightness and flash rate for any scenario. The app even includes a synchronized stopwatch so you'll know exactly how long you've been gone.

With VIPark, the world becomes your parking spot. You can park anywhere, anytime.

Are both of the Starbucks on your block crowded? No problem, just double VIPark. And don't worry, those cyclists will just merge into traffic to go around you.

 

Frustrated the spot out front has been wasted by a useless fire hydrant? No problem, just VIPark.

 

Life's little errands are hard enough without the hassle of an open parking spot. Thanks to the versatile VIPark mounting system, nearly any bike can be retrofitted in minutes.

 

Roll with the big boys, you're only going to be a "second", just pull into a Bus Stop like the police.

 

With the push of a button you can solve the legal and social inconvenience of countless roadway scenarios. Double, triple, even quadruple parking is simple. School zones, red curbs, bike lanes and fire hydrants are all easily conquered.

 

VIPark: Because your time is more important than anyone else's. Get VIP'ed here.

 

*Some assembly required. Batteries not included. Unlawful in 48 states.

 

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Oversimplified: Bicycle Insurance

Most of us don't hesitate to spend what is needed to protect our bikes: locks, bolts, cables. We've all learned, some of us the hard way, how to lock up properly. But how about insurance? Do you have it and is it worth it?

There's a lot of misunderstanding about what coverage is available and what coverage is worthwhile. For the price of one fancy dinner date, you can likely insure your bike for the year. Read on for our oversimplified guide to bike insurance.

Jargon

Something we avoid whenever possible, but you'll need some to navigate this process.

Premium - The price you pay for insurance.

Claim - Your request for payment in the event of theft or damage.

Deductible - The amount you have to pay on a claim before insurance kicks in.

Personal Liability - The legal fees and settlement your insurance pays someone else if you (and/or your bike) cause them injury or damage their property.

And last, a disclaimer: insurance varies dramatically by plan, provider, and state. It would be impossible to summarize all options for all people, so we've collected a short list of easy questions that will help you find the right coverage.

Types Of Coverage

Renter's Insurance is likely the most well known. It covers all your stuff in a disaster - such as fire - as well as out on the street. If your apartment is burglarized, or your cable lock cut, Renter's Insurance will pay out for a replacement bike.

Homeowner's Insurance works the same but usually has a higher deductible.

State Farm, Allstate, and many others offer property coverage nationally. If you prefer surreal commercials, try Geico.

Like all insurance, every claim has the potential to raise your rates. While claiming inexpensive damage or theft may result in a pay out from your provider, it might also raise your premiums. That rate hike could be more costly the original claim is worth.  For that reason, there are insurance options for your bike only. You pick how much coverage you need for your body, your bike, and your liability to other road users.

Bicycle Insurance plans from Markel are sound and offer an easy online quote. Expect to spend 5 minutes or less providing some info to get a rough price. At a bike value of $1,400 we got a quote for $150 year. Velosurance is another good option. The quote process is a bit more involved but presumably closer to actual price.

In both instances, your bike value won't change your premium all that much. It's the additional coverage, like liability, medical, even roadside assistance that can inflate the price (and quickly).

Believe it or not, some car insurance policies even provide personal injury protection while riding.

Deductible Pro Tip

If your deductible - the amount you pay on any claim - is greater than the value of your bike, you'll get nothing. So, if your insurance only covers your bike for damage or theft, and the premium for the year + the deductible is greater than the value of your bike, you're wasting money.

Remember, many plans include coverage for injury (yours and others) on the road, and that might make the deal worth it, even if the above is true.

Questions To Ask Your Agent

1) How is the value of my bike calculated?

Some providers will use Actual Cash Value, the street worth of your bike at the time of incident. Others will use the Replacement Value, what it would cost to replace regardless of depreciation. This is a big difference. Know ahead of time which method your carrier uses.

2) If I make a claim, what is my deductible?

If your deductible is large, approaching the value of your bike, ask if increasing your premium will lower it.

3) Is my bike covered with someone else riding it? Am I covered when riding someone else's bike?

This will vary plan to plan. Find out before your roommate forgets to lock up.

4) Does the plan include an liability or injury coverage for me and/or my fellow road users? Or does it only cover theft or damage to my bike?

Liability insurance will increase your premium but can be the easiest way to protect yourself from a costly settlement if you're found at fault.

Conclusion

Bicycle insurance isn't for everyone. But if you're unlucky enough to need it, insurance can make a bad situation better. The rest of the time coverage may provide the peace of mind you need to get the most out of every ride.

 

Did we miss something? Shoot us an email and let us know.

 

P.S. - We're looking for two new Mission teammates. Graphic designer with a great eye and the discipline to cultivate our brand? Click here. Skilled mechanic who loves building custom bikes? Click here.

 

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What's Black and White and Rode All Over?

Inspired by late nights, city lights, and full moons, the Lumen is the world's first commercially available retro-reflective bike.

Pre-orders start now on Kickstarter.

How does it work?

Not all reflection is the same. The Lumen's patented retro-reflective coating returns light directly to the source rather than bouncing, scattering, or diffusing the light. Retro-reflection is focused, creating a signal that is brighter and more intense.

Each bike will be painted with hundreds of thousands of microscopic spheres. As light enters those spheres it boomerangs right back to the source. This effect - known as "cat's eye" - is visible up to 1,000 feet.

By Night

By Day

We're now being asked, "Why hasn't anybody done this yet? Why haven't any of the big bike companies already figured this out?" 

The answer may surprise you. Click here for more info, more pictures and video of the Lumen in action.

 

Our Partner

Halo Coatings develops innovative technologies to enable the application of reflective coatings to 3D surfaces. Halo holds patents on the retro-reflective powder coat that is used on the Lumen, as well as a patented liquid coating technology that can be applied to plastic, rubber, and other composite substrates.

 

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Do Your Handlebars Fit Your Riding?

While your riding experience is the sum of the bikes many parts, handlebars have a big impact on posture, stability, even power transfer into each pedal stroke.

So if different bars offer different benefits (and have different drawbacks), are you riding the bars best suited to your commute?

 

Café bar

Café style bars come in a variety of shapes, but all have a swept back hand position and most have a rise. Those two features in combination tend to put you more upright, with your hands closer to your body. The result is a relaxed ride with a straight back.

Good for those who like to stay in the saddle and prefer an easier, more leisurely ride.

Riser bar

Riser bars are usually wider than bullhorns or drops (we'll get there), making them more stable, but not as upright or set back as café bars. They're utilitarian and work for a lot of riders and a lot of city bikes. Risers only offer a single hand position, but generally allow a wider variety of riding styles than café bars. What the riser bar lacks in power, it makes up for in comfort.

Good for those who prioritize stability and only need moderate power.

Bullhorn bar

Bullhorns offer two hand positions. The forward position out front on the "horns" allows for more aggressive riding, but often requires a stretch. When out of the saddle it's a particularly strong position from which to pull, creating a lot of power for climbing or sprinting. On the flats - the area to each side of the stem - your torso will be more upright, but the narrow grasp can feel less stable for some riders.

Good for those who ride hard and fast and like to be out of the saddle.

Drop bar

This is the classic road style bar. The drop bars best feature - multiple hand positions - often goes unused in city riding. While you'll have 2 to 3 places to put your hands, many riders stay up top on the flats for shorter commutes. If you live in a windy place getting down in the drops allows you to lean way over and reduce wind resistance substantially. Since your torso is stretched out over the frame however visibility in traffic is reduced.

Good for those who ride hard, or take longer rides particularly in hilly or windy areas.

FAQ

1. Are there other bar styles than these?

Yeah of course, but these are what you'll pass most of the time on the street.

2. Can I replace my existing handlebar with one of these styles?

Yeah of course, but you may have to replace some other components (like brake levers) as well, depending on the style.

3. Will the particulars of my bike affect how any one bar will fit me?

Yeah of course, but these descriptions are a safe place to start. Visit your local bike shop for specific advice.

 

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We Shall Call This Biketopia, The Mission

There shall be shops for bikes of all kinds, and all style of rider shall be welcome, and the streets shall be bathed in green bicycle lights, and all will rejoice and say, "This - this is the place of the bike. This is Biketopia. We shall call this place, The Mission."

And so it is, and it is good.

Yarn bombed! The bike racks in front of our shop.

If you live in San Francisco, or are just visiting, and you want a bicycle anything - from bags and gear to frames and builds - you've got to visit the Mission. Our home district is a haven for cyclists, cycling, and cycle stuff. The 0.6 sq. miles surrounding our shop houses 10 bike businesses. That's one shop every 300 feet.

Click here to view the map above of Mission shops. To download to your phone for easy access later, press and hold on the image once opened.

Need a high-end road bike? Try Freewheel. Need a riding bag today? Mission Workshop has gorgeous wares. If you've got time to wait, the brand new Chrome store has a custom sew station. If you need repair, go see Ben at Treat Street. If you want to learn how to do it yourself, drop in the Bike Kitchen for tools and advice. Hell, we've even got a specialty bike camping store.

You can't throw a rock in the Mission without hitting a bike store and several cyclists at the same time. But don't be a jerk, only jerks throw rocks.

Even just getting around the Mission has been designed for riders. Valencia street has a heavily trafficked bike lane nearly two miles long, much of which is a Green Wave. A Green Wave is a stretch of roadway where the traffic lights have been timed to the speed of a bicycle. It means that when riding, once you hit a green light, you're likely to hit them all. But Green Waves benefit all road users, not just cyclists. The steady flow is safer for pedestrians and even reduces travel times for cars by eliminating the stop and go. Combined with a network of perpendicular bike lanes, getting everywhere is safe and easy.

If so much bike shopping tires you out, grab a bite. The Mission is littered with great food, and outdoor public seating in the form of parklets and cafes.

It may be unorthodox for a business to promote their "competitors" but we don't think of our neighbors that way. San Francisco riders, and the local bike businesses that support them, are a holistic system. When one is well, we are all more likely to flourish.

Plus, we still like our bikes the best. Get to the Mission and decide for yourself.

 

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2014 Spring Clean Us Out (72 hours)

25 items 50% off through Thursday

A: The Javan Rhino, a leap year birthday, a fuel efficient car, and a Mission Bicycle 50% off sale.

Q: What are very rare things?

It's that time of year again, where we try and will Spring to arrive with our Spring Clean sale.

We've got 25 items at 50% off. Click here to see them all.

We're ready for Spring. Sun. Now, please.

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Oversimplified: Tire Shopping Explained

No matter what kind of bike you ride or where, your tires affect your commute. So why is something so essential so often misunderstood? Size, PSI, TPI, weight, price... the variables can be confusing.

If this sounds like meaningless jargon fear not, we've oversimplified the process. Read on for our recommendations on what to know, to make shopping for tires easy.

To start, different types of bikes have different size tires. To find your tire size, grab your best monocle and embrace the floor. Your tire size will be listed on the sidewall, but can be hard to spot. What you're looking for are two numbers separated by an "x". Something like 700c x 25mm, or 27" x 1 1/4". That tells you the tire diameter x tire width

Your diameter is fixed, but you have lots of options for width so lets start there.

 

Tire width affects ride. As tire width increases (say from 23mm to 28mm), the maximum allowable pressure decreases (say 110PSI to 85PSI). That means thinner tires can be firmer, reducing rolling resistance and saving you energy on your ride.  Don't be fooled into thinking big squishy tires equal comfort. Bouncing around, rather than moving forward, isn't comfortable or efficient. We like 23mm - 25mm.

 

As anyone who has gone a few weeks without pumping up can tell you, tire pressure - measured in pounds per square inch (PSI) - makes a big difference. For 700c tires we think the sweet spot is between 100PSI - 120PSI. In that range the tire is firm and fast, but not so hard it's jarring and uncomfortable.

 

Be prepared to pay anywhere from $20 - $60 per tire. As you'd expect, the higher the price the higher the quality. Anything below $20 will likely have a short life and isn't worth the hassle. Alternatively, while there are plenty of tires above $60, they're usually over designed for commuting. Save your money, $30 - $50 will do you just fine.

 

Contrary to popular belief, tires are not constructed of rubber. They're made of nylon covered in rubber. That inner nylon casing has a thread count - threads per inch (TPI) - that has a large impact on the tires performance and durability.

A low thread count tire (say < 80TPI) has larger threads and more rubber. This makes the tire heavier, and a little more sluggish to ride, but it also means it has better puncture protection and a longer life.

A high thread count tire (say > 100) has finer threads and less rubber. This makes the tire lighter and more flexible so it grips the road better - we say it "performs" better - but it's also more susceptible to flats. And because the threads are a bit more delicate the tire will wear out sooner.

60TPI - 120TPI covers a broad range of tires, giving you access to the benefits of each casing type.

 

While tire weight is a small part of your overall bike weight, it can make a difference. 200 - 300 grams per tire is our recommended range for city riding. Ultra light tires exist but sacrifice durability, while over built tires add unneeded weight.

Say you're comparing two tires of similar price, 100 grams apart in weight (tire weight is measured in grams). 100g might not seem like much, but that's 200g across both wheels which is about 1/2 pound. It's not huge, but every little bit counts.

 

Go Forth And Shop

Your bike or your riding may not accommodate every recommendation above, and that's okay. Armed with this knowledge you can make an informed decision at your local bike shop to get the best tires for you.

 

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Say "I love you" In Bike Speak

Chocolate is year round. Roses are overpriced. Singing telegrams are awkward. This Valentine's Day, tell your sweetheart you care in a language that s/he'll understand.

Designed in house and printed in San Francisco, each card comes with an envelope and a great big thank you kiss* from the recipient.

Give love, get lucky, here.

 

*actual results may vary

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